STRATFORD siblings Nicole and Dani Brain were part of the Great Britain canoe polo teams which travelled to the village of Willebroek, near Mechelen in Belgium, to play in the tournament that doubled as the Flanders Cup and the second leg of the Europa Cup.
The event was played on the side of a rowing lake which had been constructed on the site of a disused gravel pit and 22-year-old Nicole, the swim manager at Stratford Leisure Centre, and 18-year-old Dani were part of the GB senior women’s team.
They were driven to Belgium by the GB senior women’s team coach, 1992 canoe slalom Olympian Paul Brain and, whilst this turned out to be a difficult weekend for the women, they took the opportunity to try out new tactics against some strong competition before the World Championships later this year in Sicily.
The competition was played in divisions and, with 11 women’s teams in the event, the GB women were placed in the Ladies A Division and were to play five games before the knockout stage.
With captain Aimie not playing due to illness, the team took a while to settle down and the first match went badly for the GB women who failed to get their moves together and went down 8-3 to the Netherlands.
In the rest of the games on Saturday they pulled together as a team and played well to win all three as they saw off Switzerland 2-0, Sweden 6-3 and Denmark 4-3.
By 8am on Sunday the GB women were up early to face Germany who are a very strong team and proved too good for GB as they won 6-1.
This left GB with two games to play-off for position and they beat Czech Republic 5-1 but were beaten 3-1 by Italy, leaving them in sixth place in the Flanders Cup and fourth in the Europa Cup rankings with one more round to play.
There were medals for two of the GB teams as the U21 men’s team reached the final and came second to Germany and the U21 women – in their first international competition of 2016 – secured third place.
The next competition for the GB teams is at Thury-Harcourt, Normandy, France, in July in the third and final ECA cup before final selections for the World Championships in Syracuse, Sicily, in late August.